Mastering Great Tree Photographs
Trees make great photo subjects. While it is not always easy to find good trees for beautiful creative photography, once you find an interesting tree it is likely to be there where you found it waiting for you to capture its beauty. Still being stationary can be boring if you just snap a picture of a tree, but since trees and even forest change with the seasons and the time of day you will have nearly infinite chances for awesome compositions.
Trees and forest have complex layers of color, tonal shades, and texture to challenge the imagination of even the most skilled professional photographer. Of course varying your composition will help to make your masterpieces even more compelling to the viewer. With trees you can move in and photograph the fine detail of leaves and bark or grab that wide angle and make a beautiful tree the focal point of the big picture. Easy right? Oh, and don't forget lighting, wind, and wet leaf reflections.
Classic examples of tree and forest photography themes
The Lone Tree on the Horizon
A true classic type of tree photo composition that evokes feelings of peace and solitude and takes us back to simpler times. In this picture you can make use of the rule of thirds where the focal point of your photograph should be in one-third of the frame rather than dead center. You can apply this rule both horizontally and vertically. By placing your subject off-center, you add visual interest to your photo and draw the eye to your subject, in this case the lone tree.
The group of trees
Now things get a bit more challenging . Here you need to make simplicity out of chaos. In this case it is a matter of separating the trees from the forest. To solve this problem of isolating one or a small group of trees from the forest you can make use of, the lay of the land, light and shadow, or your lens. A wide angle lens will help to give separation by make other trees seem more distant. Photographing from a low angle gives the feel that your trees are powerful and massive. Soft natural light with a wisp of fog is a great opportunity if you can be in the forest when that is happening. Picture photos you have seen with a rays of light coming down through a grove of trees. Snow or even frost can help to give isolated contrast to make your chosen trees stand out from the forest.
Use Shape and Form
With many trees their distinct, bold shapes create fascinating images. Whether you are photographing a Joshua tree in the desert, palm trees in Hawaii, or your backyard tree give an uncommon perspective a try. Get low and shoot up like the wide angle shot of the group of tall trees photographed from the ground straight up to the forest canopy with a wide angle lens Go lower than a low growing tree like a Japanese Maple and shoot up, maybe including a sunburst through the leaves.
Or you can forget the rules, get creative, and find a composition that is pleasing to you. After all this is your art.